Like many fellow bookworms, I never need an excuse to add more titles to my already full bookcase. Nonetheless, due to our current situation, I’ve finally had time to hunker down and actually read the books that I’ve been putting off. Small mercies, heh? As a result, I’ve had the opportunity to read some absolutely cracking novels, that I regret that I didn’t read before this period. So, if you’re looking for new books to keep you busy during these difficult times, look no further. Here are 4 of my absolute favourites to help you pass the time.
Saltwater by Jessica Andrews
Andrew’s great coming of age novel, should be at the top of your reading lists. Told in fragmented vignettes, the book tells the story of Lucy, a young working-class woman, reflecting on her life after moving to university. The novel is a perfect blend between present and past, showing vivid flashbacks of her relationship with her mother, her profoundly deaf brother, and alcoholic father. The fragmentary nature of the book allows us to move fluidly from tragedy to humour, in an understated way, without ever becoming mawkish.
It’s a perfect book for getting lost in poetic imagery, in a way that never feels pretentious and always feels relatable. It’s a breath-taking read, especially for young people, who are just venturing out to university and trying to figure out how their past and present have merged to make them what they are.
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh
Mackintosh’s chilling dystopian novel tells the story of sisters Grace, Lia and Sky. Until his mysterious death, they have lived largely under the control of their father, King, away from men, who are thought to be a threat to them. As well as this, the 3 girls must partake in rituals to purge and cleanse toxins and emotions from their bodies. These rituals include almost drowning themselves in their pool, as well as sewing themselves into fainting sacks. The Water Cure is one of those rare books, where you struggle to grasp any concrete information, in terms of a straightforward plot, but the quiet menace of the phrasing is enough to keep you reading.
It’s a perfect book for anyone who is interested in a poetic and brutal writing style, and the isolation the 3 girls face from the rest of the world is poignantly relevant, to our current situation.
The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes
I actually read this book way before the pandemic. However, I’m still thinking about it, which surely is the sign of any great novel. Haynes book tells the story of Alex, a young woman who takes a teaching job at a Pupil Referral Unit, after her life falls apart. However, as she gets closer to the students, her past has a way of creeping its way back into her life, and when one of teenagers she teaches gets more and more involved in her personal life, it has dire consequences for everyone involved. It’s a slow burner of a book. The plot gets increasingly fast paced and gripping as the novel progresses. Perfect for anyone who wants a great tense novel to get stuck into, to distract us from these difficult times.
How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
Finally, if you are looking for a novel that’s more light-hearted, Moran’s hilarious book is perfect. Teenager Johanna Morrigan lives in working class Wolverhampton. Like most teenagers going through puberty, Johanna is insecure and feels like an outsider. However, this changes when she leaves school to start a career as a music journalist. Both parts hilarious and heart-warming, the book had me crying with laughter one minute, and just plain crying the next. Perfect for some light-hearted relief from COVID news and it has even been made into a new film starring Beanie Feldstein.
Now if that’s not something to look forward to, I don’t know what is.